The Hawks are interested in bringing back Joe Johnson.
And a reunion is a real possibility.
The Hawks are one of several teams with serious interest in signing the seven-time All-Star and Johnson has interest in the returning to Atlanta, according to several people familiar with the situation. The Nets have begun negotiations to buyout Johnson’s contract, according to a report by ESPN’s Mark Stein. Johnson would have 48 hours to clear waivers once a buyout is reached. He would then become a free agent.
Johnson spent seven seasons with the Hawks from 2005-12 and was named an Eastern Conference All-Star six straight years.
The Thunder and Cavaliers are also potential suitors. According the ESPN, the Celtics, Rockets Heat and Raptors would also have interest.
Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Kirk Hinrich (second tour of duty) are the only remaining Hawks who played with Johnson during his tenure in Atlanta.
New Nets general manager Sean Marks, who just took the position after serving as assistant general manager for the Spurs, told a New York radio station Thursday morning that Johnson deserves the right to pursue playoffs with another team if he wants that opportunity.
Johnson, 34, was in the final year of the six-year $124 million max contract he signed with the Hawks in 2010. He was due to make $24.89 million this season. He will be an unrestricted free agent following the season.
The Hawks traded Johnson to the Nets for five players and several draft picks, including a first-round selection, in 2012 in one of the first moves by then-general manager Danny Ferry. He has spent the past three seasons with the team.
The 6-foot-7 shooting guard/small forward is a veteran of 15 NBA seasons after being the 10th overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft out of Arkansas. He averaged 17 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists in his career. His best years came with the Hawks where he averaged 20.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists. He was also a part of five playoff seasons with the Hawks.
Johnson also played for the Celtics and Suns before the Hawks. His trade from the Suns to the Hawks in 2005 famously started a feud within the new ownership of the organization, the Atlanta Spirit, which led to several law suits and the dissolution of the original group.
The Hawks opened a roster spot at the NBA trade deadline last week. It was a move necessitated when Tiago Splitter was lost for the season with a hip injury. President of basketball operations and head coach Mike Budenholzer said the team would look at the waiver wire market, the international market and the NBA Development League market to fill the roster spot. The Hawks would look to add a veteran by waiver and international markets and a young player by the D-League market.